News / Middle East

Libya's Transitional Government Faces Human Rights Challenges

Gaddafi loyalists, taken prisoner by anti-Gaddafi fighters, are led out after they were found hiding in a hospital in the center of Sirte, October 9, 2011.
Gaddafi loyalists, taken prisoner by anti-Gaddafi fighters, are led out after they were found hiding in a hospital in the center of Sirte, October 9, 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +

Libya's new leaders are forming a transitional government as they consolidate control and battle the remaining forces loyal to deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi. They face numerous challenges - perhaps one of the greatest being in the area of human rights.

Libyans are still savoring freedom and today a popular outing is to visit the sprawling palace grounds of ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Children pose for pictures among the ruins of the deposed colonel's palace and former rebels fire their guns in celebration.

Bones pictured at the scene of a mass grave in Tripoli, September 25, 2011.
Bones pictured at the scene of a mass grave in Tripoli, September 25, 2011.

Libyans are also uncovering the excesses of Mr. Gadhafi's 42-year rule. Human rights activists say the society has yet to address severe human rights abuses during the Gadhafi era as well as during the struggle to remove him.

Abu Salim Prison is a vast walled complex where thousands of political prisoners were held over the years and where many of them died or disappeared.  When rebels took over the prison in late August, they found extensive files about political prisoners, dissidents and many ordinary citizens.

Mohamed Salem Drah is one of several human rights lawyers documenting detentions, disappearances and other violations by the Gadhafi regime.

"It is very important for history.  It is very important for those who were injured.  It is very important for justice itself," said Drah.

Doctors and nurses in his group are also documenting cases of abuse of prisoners and civilians during the months of fighting.  They say both sides committed abuses, although they say, Gadhafi loyalists were responsible for most of them.

The head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, is urging Libyans to refrain from acts of revenge and is calling on Libyans to build a state that respects the rule of law.

Jalil says the nation must work to abolish hatred and jealousy, and he urges Libyans to avoid revenge and oppression. He says reports of abuses will be investigated.

Human rights organizations are especially concerned about the plight of Libya's sub-Saharan Africans who numbered more than one million and made up one-sixth of the country's population.  Some of them reportedly fought with forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

Rights workers say more than one-third of all prisoners are black Africans.  Some of them have told reporters that they were offered money or citizenship to fight for Mr. Gadhafi.

But most were migrant workers.  Many fled Libya when the fighting began.  But more than 100,000 remained and gathered in makeshift camps for protection.

Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch says many were suspected of being pro-Gadhafi fighters and often were detained without reason or charge.

"The problem is that once they get detained by these overzealous young armed men on the streets, they get taken to a detention facility and there is really no process in place to get them released.  There is no investigative authority, no judicial authority in place right now," Bouckaert said.

Bouckaert says it will be difficult to transform the police state built by Moammar Gadhafi into a modern democratic society.  But, he says, this is what most Libyans want.

“We know there will be vast challenges to rebuild structures of a state, but there really is a genuine commitment there - not just on the part of the new leadership, but also on the part of the population.  It lived under brutality for so long that they know it is not what want,” said Bouckaert.

He says it is important that supporters of Mr. Gadhafi who did not engage in human rights violations be included in the healing and rebuilding process.  Because, he says, if they join, the transition can be achieved relatively smoothly and without retribution.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid